ZANESVILLE Four Guernsey County men and a juvenile are facing misdemeanor theft charges for allegedly trying to steal a lion carcass after it was shot and killed by Muskingum County sheriffs deputies.
The adults charged include Joseph Jakubisin, 21, and Richard Wedlich, 20, both of Cambridge; Brian Matthews, 21, of Kimbolton; and Cody Wilson, 21, of Byesville. Authorities declined to identify the juvenile male.
The men had reportedly loaded the lion carcass into a Jeep several hours after it was killed.
They were leaving the area where the carcass was found when stopped by Muskingum County sheriffs deputies.
The lion was one of 48 exotic animals shot and killed by authorities on Oct. 18 after owner Terry Thompson opened their cages at his farm and then committed suicide.
The decision to shoot the animal was made by Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz to protect the residents of the county.
The 48 animals killed included 18 endangered Bengal tigers, 17 male and female lions, grizzly and black bears and wolves.
The charges were filed by Muskingum County Prosecutor Michael Haddox.
The incident involving Thompson has prompted Ohio lawmakers to review the states laws regarding ownership of exotic animals and calls from animal rights advocates for changes to those laws.